Soccer Business Bits: MLS Broadcasts, New Ball & More

We wrote last week about Major League Soccer’s efforts to keep the league relevant during the off season.  The league is certainly making an effort in that regard with a couple of announcements today designed to keep fans interested and media reporting about the league.  We’ll start with big national broadcast news for the opening Major League Soccer weekend in 2012.  Of particular interest is the first ever MLS game on the NBC Sports network, which will go off mid-day  on Sunday from Pizza Hut Park as FC Dallas hosts the Red Bulls.  Mid-day Sunday isn’t exactly a prime spot for sports in March, but there probably won’t be much competition outside of basketball.  ESPN drew two great match-ups for their opening weekend, including a home match in Portland on Monday night against Philadelphia.  On Saturday evening, ESPN will showcase the first ever Montreal match when the new franchise travels to Vancouver for the first MLS match between the Canadian rivals.  Galavision drew a Sunday evening match between Houston and Chivas USA from the Home Depot Center.

The league also announced, in conjunction with adidas, the debut of its new match ball.  According to the official press release, the PRIME  ball’s “new panel design provides more accurate and consistent ball movement to support the modern soccer game which is faster than ever.  The Prime also features a matte finish for better grip and improved sealing for better performance in all weather conditions.”  The new ball retails for $150 and is available now through MLS Gear.

Finally, GOLTV has made it known that they have renewed multimedia rights agreement to air coverage of Brasileirão, Brazil’s premier championship soccer league, and Campeonato Paulista through 2015.  In addition, the network will also telecast the FC Barcelona/Real Madrid match on December 10.